Committee Annual Report: briefing

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Meeting report


4 November 2005

Chairperson: Dr E Schoeman (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Draft Committee Annual Report
Annual Report attachment: Budgetary Control Support Statement
[please email]

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee discussed final revisions to its Draft Annual Report. In light of questions regarding the Budgetary Control Support Statement, the Committee adjourned the meeting to arrange an immediate briefing by the Committee Section’s Financial Officer. The Committee also discussed obtaining input regarding the constitutional review process from outside experts. As the Financial Officer was not available to brief them at that time, and the meeting was inquorate anyway, the Committee planned to arrange a short meeting the next week for final approval of the report.

The Chairperson commenced took the Committee through the Draft Annual Report. He first stated that Mr Shiceka's title should be "Deputy Chairperson," rather than "Co-Chairperson." He made an editing correction to the "Vision Statement": "To encourage public debate around the Constitution, engender enthusiasm for the Constitution and facilitate a fully reviewed Constitution on an annual basis."

Ms Camerer suggested language to clarify that it was only a review of selected portions, not the entire Constitution. She requested reference to the "annual" invitation for public submissions in the mission statement.

The Chairperson stated the "Support Staff" section should be revised to include an additional staff member who had served through September 2005. The reference to an 11 November 2005 Committee meeting should be removed, since there would probably be no meeting the next Friday.

The Chairperson suggested an editorial revision to the "Public Submissions" to state that the Committee had received 17 public submissions.

The reference to "Public Hearings" in connection with the "Budget Vote" should be deleted because the Constitutional review was not affected by any departmental budget. The Committee had received a referral from the Joint Rules Committee regarding provisions of the interim Constitution still in operation. The reference to a brainstorming session would be omitted since it would come up in connection with other activities. The Committee was currently dealing with this matter in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

"Outstanding Matters" should include:
- 12.1 A report from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the provisions of the interim Constitution which were still in operation.
- 12.2 Interaction with the Department of Communications and the Portfolio Committee on Communications regarding the inclusion of telecommunications in Section 192 of the Constitution. The Broadcasting Authority should be included in Section 181 of the Constitution.
- 12.3 The referral of the submission on animal rights to the Portfolio and Select Committee dealing with Environmental Affairs.

Only a minor editorial change was made to the "Report" section. The "Recommendation" section was changed to have the list of submissions appear before "2." Next, the Chairperson discussed Section "2" under "Recommendation" regarding the referral by the Joint Committee on the provisions of the interim Constitution still in operation. "2.1" should refer to the first Committee meeting with the officials from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. "2.2" should refer to the August 2005 meeting. "2.3" was revised to reflect the Chairperson's briefing of the Committee the previous week that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development had decided to refer the Report to the Cabinet. The Report then had to go through the Cabinet process and would subsequently be returned to the Committee.

Mr A Gaum (ANC) suggested that the Committee review the Budgetary Control Support Statement to the Annual Report to ensure the correction of typographical errors. For example, he asked why R249 321.60 was listed next to several line items.

Ms Camerer also questioned the meaning of the line item: "Credit to Consolidated Fund." Was there a slush fund? Was the Committee allowed to transfer unused funds to the next year?

Mr F Beukman (ANC) suggested that perhaps the item was a surplus to be used in situations where a committee had overspent.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee Section was researching other countries that used a similar Constitutional Review system. It might be fruitful to visit such a country. He suggested motivating this for the new year.

Ms Camerer requested that the Committee motivate it this year because she questioned the usefulness of a brainstorming session without external output. It would be best to go visit another country where they had a similar process prior to taking further action within the Committee. She gave the example of the Justice Committee when it enacted anti-racketeering legislation. ThatcCommittee had found it helpful to see how another country had done so before drafting its own version.

The Chairperson stated that he had been contacted by Dr Leon Wessels, who had explained to how the Constitutional review process had developed. The Chairperson thought Dr Wessels had quite a few stimulating ideas and would like to invite him to talk to the Committee. He agreed that more brainstorming within the Committee, with one or two outside experts, should perhaps be followed by a trip to another country for research purposes.

The meeting was briefly adjourned to arrange for an immediate briefing by the Committee Section’s Financial Officer and to try to obtain a Committee quorum. It was determined that the Financial Officer was not available to brief the Committee at that time. The Chairperson stated that the Committee could not approve the report without more information regarding the budgetary statement. Therefore, the Committee would arrange a briefing with a short meeting the next week and would defer final approval of the report until then.

The meeting was adjourned.


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